Worried by the plight of senior citizens in Nigeria often neglected, a group of prominent Nigerians under the aegis of 60 Plus Advocacy Initiative, a non-profit, non-religious, non-partisan and non-governmental organisation with the sole aim of being the voice for the elderly, recently had its maiden launch, fundraising, and lectures on challenges of caring for the elderly. With this latest initiative, senior citizens are expected to enjoy
a new lease of life. Funke Olaode reports
They are group of accomplished men and women whose professions cut across different sectors of the economy: from medicine, industry, law and so on. But all of them have one thing in mind, to be their brother’s keeper. Who are these brothers? They are Nigerian senior citizens who are often neglected and worried by this societal injustice, the group decided to intervene by putting resources together to come to the senior citizens’ rescue.
60Plus Advocacy Initiative founded two and half years ago is a non-profit, non-religious, non-partisan and non-governmental organisation working in partnership with some local and international bodies to advocate for social justice and quality living for the elderly in Nigeria. It promotes the collective interest of senior citizens rights in Nigeria by lending their voices and ensures that it is heard by creating public awareness on matters that will improve the quality of living. Apart from that, it stands in as advocates and intercessors, who give support to the senior citizens to make their voices heard especially when and where they can’t speak up for themselves. Also, it teaches the people to recognize and respect the rights of the older persons, campaign against discriminations and abuse of the senior citizen on grounds of age, develops suitable training programmes and train volunteers who are willing to serve as care givers for the senior citizens.
On Thursday November 19, 2020, all roads led to Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi Lagos where dignitaries from all works of life gathered for the maiden launch, fundraising and lectures on how to cater for the elderly. The event which was partially aired via Zoom had in attendance Senior Advocates of Nigeria who were also guest speakers, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi SAN, Chief (Mrs.) Folake Solanke SAN, Chief Launcher, Otunba Alex Onabanjo who was ably represented by Mrs. Omowunmi Adeniyi, chairman, Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, Chairman, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Dr. Aderemi Makanjuola, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, Chairperson, First Bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Hon. Adewale Abiru, Dr. Kofo Odusote, Erelu Angela Adebayo, Pa Jimoh Gbadamosi, and Managing Director, NLNG, Mr. Tony Attah.
Others included Chairperson Launching Committee, 60 Plus Advocacy Initiative, Mrs. Yoyinsola Makanjuola, Chairperson, Business Strategy Committee, Dr. Biola Mohammed; Council Member, Dr. Jerry Nwankwo; Chairman, Governing Council, Mr. Yinka Obalede; Member, Board of Trustees/ Council Member, Mrs. Fasina Modupe, Mrs. Joy Alozie, among others.
In his presentation on ‘Challenge of Caring for The Elderly: The Necessary Paradigm Shift,’ Ajayi said the elderly represented between 5.6 and 60 per cent of the population (about 10 million). Nigeria, the country with the largest population in Africa, has a senior-citizen-projected population growth rate of 3.2 percent by the Population Reference Bureau – a rate that estimated to double by 2050.
“What to do to take care of the elderly because everybody will become elderly one day? Age is like a race,” the guest speaker asked.
Speaking further, he classified the elderly into two categories: the rural and the urban.
“Nigeria is 60 and should be part of this NGO. The country started well but over the years, everything has collapsed. The sense of culture and our feelings have been eroded as people are no longer compassionate. Prof. Ajayi believed the elder are carriers of the knowledge of yesterday, and should be taken care off. As a matter of urgency, this culture of compassion must be embedded in the youth.
“As we grow as a nation, as our culture shape-shifts into tomorrow today, we must remain in constant reminder of the fact that we are a cultural people who take care of our senior citizens and supporting NGO’s like 60 Plus Initiative – ‘the voice of the elderly’ is a step in the right direction,” he added.
In his address read by his representative, the chief launcher, Dr. Alex Onabanjo, lauded the initiative, saying, ‘This is a wonderful one and the vision is very apt at this time in our country. As the voice for the elderly, there is no better wake-up call than what you are doing today because with the pandemic ravaging the whole it has become ‘man for himself’ God for all. What you are doing today would solve many of the problems facing our country. Thank you for rising above the challenge of the moment.”
Mrs. Yoyinsola Makanjuola, who joined the association three months ago, said, “I was introduced to 60 Plus – my in-law, Dr. Biola Mohammed, who I know won’t join an association with questionable integrity. I checked their brochure and their aims and objects aligned with my passion for the elderly. I lost my mother early and was used to my grandmother who died at 93. From her, I got the passion to take care of the elderly whether they are my relatives or not and what they face in terms of loneliness and particularly their health which depreciates with age. And having found about their vision and mission I keyed it.
“And now that it is being launched we will hit the ground running by getting a recreation centre where they can unwind, special geriatric unit in all public medical institution especially at the primary health care level to cater for the elderly so they can receive prompt attention and other areas where intervention is urgent. I am excited to be part of this group to alleviate the plight of the elderly in Nigeria.”
In their good will messages via Xoom, Erelu Adebayo said, “This is great because if you find it in your heart to cater for somebody, you have succeeded. Be assured of my support and I will take your message to anywhere and everywhere.”
Donations were made to support the noble cause. Onabanjo donated N5 million. Eleganza boss, Chief Rasaki Okoya, donated N2 million among other donations by the attendees.